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Learning to Recognize the Shepherd’s Voice

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

No one matures as a disciple on their own.

In John 10, Jesus describes the ideal shepherd. He knows his sheep and his sheep know him. They follow him because they recognize his voice.

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about this passage. She grew up on a farm where her family raised livestock, including sheep. She explained that, over time, sheep come to associate the sound of the shepherd’s voice (or even whistle) with certain benefits.

Contrary to popular opinion, sheep aren’t dumb. They know who feeds them, protects them, and cares for their needs. Sheep can distinguish their keeper’s voice from others.

But what about newborn lambs? How do they learn to recognize the shepherd’s voice? My friend confirmed my suspicions. From birth, lambs are conditioned to follow the flock.

Sheep get a bad rap for their flock mentality, but God created them with an instinct to stick together as a means of survival. That instinct allows the lambs to flourish. Even sheep that are introduced to a new flock will follow the other sheep until they too recognize the shepherd.

I think that’s a great picture of discipleship. As disciple-makers, we help others learn to recognize the voice of our Savior. The body of Christ is like that flock of sheep. We bring along non-believers and new believers, walk beside them, lead them, teach them, and always point them to Jesus.

When a person becomes a new believer they often follow the examples of those who have impacted their lives the most: a pastor, small group leader, or the person who led them to Christ. Over time, if they are growing spiritually, they will directly seek God’s counsel through His word. The primary voice they seek is that of the shepherd.

I gave my life to Christ when I was 10. I heard ...

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